Supporting future leaders
Entrepreneur launches first-year award for Black and Indigenous engineering students
When turning 33 last November, the co-founder and COO of a company that specializes in developing advertising platforms wrote in his birthday blog about plans to establish a scholarship to ”one of Canada's top universities.”
Earlier this year, Vitaly Pecherskiy of StackAdapt Inc. revealed that top university is the University of Waterloo when he launched a $20,000 entrance award for Black or Indigenous students who are entering the first year of many of its engineering programs.
While not a University of Waterloo alumnus – Pecherskiy has a commerce degree from the University of Ottawa – his company has hired many Waterloo Engineering grads over the years.
“I know first-hand the level of talent that the school produces,” he says. “Education from a university like the University of Waterloo can be life-changing for the student and for their family.”
Pecherskiy says that the topic of diversity and inclusion, specifically in the tech industry, has been an interest of his for the past few years.
He learned more about the challenges faced by many groups breaking into the industry when StackAdapt created the #HackDiversity documentary, in which technology leaders address disparities in their workplace and why hiring people of different ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations makes sense.
While Pecherskiy has worked to make his company more inclusive, he decided to provide support in another way after the Black Lives Matter protests took place throughout many parts of the world last summer.
“My wife and I spoke about how our family can play a more active role in helping give opportunities for future leaders in underrepresented communities,” says Pecherskiy. “We brainstormed the idea of the scholarship and I ran with it.”
The Vitaly Pecherskiy Entrance Award is valued at either $20,000 for one student or $10,000 for each of two students who identify as Black or Indigenous.
To be eligible, applicants need to be enrolled in the first year of Waterloo’s computer, management, mechatronics, software or systems design engineering programs, have a minimum entrance average of 80 percent and demonstrate financial need. The application deadline is April 15, 2021.
Pecherskiy believes it is important to raise the next generation to be capable of solving humanity’s greatest challenges.
His own next generation includes a baby boy born to Pecherskiy and his wife last year.
“Being a father is still new to me, but I think my ambition to create an impact has only grown stronger over the last year,” he explains. “Perhaps, it is the understanding that I am helping shape the world in which he will be growing up.”